Remembering Corporal Frank Humes: Purple Heart returned to Magnolia, NJ family after nine-month-long search

MAGNOLIA, NJ (WPVI) — Corporal Frank Humes’ “Purple Heart” has traversed several continents, passed through different hands over several decades and has finally returned home.

Frank was drafted into the US Army in November 1968. He was just 19 years old. He served as a sniper for the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol. His destination: Vietnam.

Frank went on a three man LRRP mission and was deployed over rope ladders in Vietnam.

“On the day he died, they had been deployed to an area where a Viet Cong battalion was located. So as soon as they hit the ground, they got into a firefight,” Frank’s brother William said.

Frank was shot in the back of the head. He was awarded two Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and two Bronze Star Medals.

William said he never learned the actual details of his brother’s death until a reunion with Frank’s fellow officers in 2002. As he was blown away by two of Frank’s teammates, including Larry Flanagan.

“I felt connected to them,” Williams said. “They talked about him like he was their brother, so I gave it back — gave them the Purple Hearts.”

Larry Flanagan died in October 2021 from pulmonary fibrosis likely related to exposure to Agent Orange. When his daughter discovered the Purple Heart among his belongings, she knew it didn’t belong to her father. So she called John Duffy, who served with both Frank and Larry.

“Purple Heart means a lot,” said John Duffy, a Vietnam War veteran from Quincey, Mass. “You can’t just let these things go. You must give it to either the person or the family. So I thought sooner or later I would find him.”

And nine months later he found William. John drove six hours to personally return the Purple Heart.

“This is real brotherhood,” said Humes. “True brotherhood. He could have just mailed it, but he drove it. So that means everything.”


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